After Love: The BRWC Review. By Alif Majeed.
Long static shots at the beginning of a movie are not unusual, but it feels like these long tracking shots have recently been used to open many indie movies. Like if there is a glossary book of cliches for indie movies, that would be one of those things in there.
So as After Love opened, and the couple walked into their home, my reaction was oh wow, here comes the indie opening shot cliche. More than willing to switch off, I dint realize I was getting drawn into the couple’s lives as the scene continued. In those precise 5 minutes, the camera statically tracks their relationship for eternity. And it ends when you get that “oh” moment as the scene ends with the husband’s death.
Having converted to from Mary to Fatima for the man she loved and the only person she has ever dated, they have been together for a long time at the start of the movie. While going through her husband Ahmed’s stuff after his death, she realizes he was in a relationship with another woman for a long time. Heartbroken and bitter at what she sees as a betrayal for all that she had given up for him, she goes to confront the other woman, Genevieve. Her plans go awry when she reaches Genevieve’s house and gets confused for the maid that the latter had requested at an agency. She starts to works at the house as she realizes that her husband also had a son with this woman and decides to wait and figure out how to deal with this situation as they are still not aware that Ahmed is dead.
If that sounds like a setup for an indie comedy about relationships and quirky hijinks, thankfully, the movie did not go that route. Despite the movie starting with the husband Ahmed’s death, Aleem Khan, the director, beautifully depicts his relationship with Fatima before the film begins. He explains enough about them throughout the movie while knowing when to let the audience fill in the gaps. The cassette tapes Ahmed made for Fatima during their courtship, which she keeps listening to as a reminder of the beautiful life they had, are a perfect example of that.
Joanna Scanlan has been around for a while now, but what she does here as Mary is a revelation as a woman suddenly having to make choices for herself which she hasn’t done for a long time. You do not judge her for choosing to forsake all her beliefs and convert to marry this man. Yet, her sadness while looking at the mirror, taking stock of how much her body has changed with her marriage, is possibly the scene that will stay with you as you realize her anger at what she had to give up to be with him. The bond she develops with the two people, Genevieve and her son Solomon, is pleasing to watch as you want to know that they will be okay with each other.
Again, there are cliched scenes from the indie playbook, like the scene where she goes into the room after landing up in France. When she pours the coffee, she pours two cups like she always did for her husband. But this scene comes across as an organic part of her life she has led so far.
If you have watched enough indie movies, you have a general understanding of how the film will play out. The director’s route to tell his story of these three people does sometimes border on tugging at our heartstrings, almost leaving us with no other option than to be moved by their predicament.
But the thing is, the movie along with Fatima and Genevieve’s plight did affect me, as it was very easy to root for both of them. The former sadly realizing that her life has been a lie and the latter having to hide from her son the truth of their relationship with her husband and his father. As the movie ended, I was definitely happy with the place where the three principal characters ended up at.
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